It turns out that much of Montana's public lands is not accessible because the only access point that's public is the adjoining corner of a second public parcel. So, can hunters and fisherman step over that corner into the second parcel? As the law now reads, no. But Rep. Ellie Boldman Hill, D-Missoula has a bill to allow such crossings. It was tabled last week by the House Judiciary Committee, but she plans to reintroduce it with hunters and fishermen at her side. Those groups, from all over the state, suppor the bill. Landowners are not as interested. One reason the bill can come under consideration: the widespread use of GIS and data about property ownership.
With today’s GPS technology, Hill said, it’s possible for people to find the corners of the properties and step across.
Among those on the oppsing side are the bills other sponsor, a Republican. Rep. Krayton Kerns, R-Laurel is concerned precident has been set based on who controls the airspace above the parcels.
In particular, Kerns pointed to a 1926 Montana Supreme Court ruling that showed a trespass occurred after a man fired a shotgun over his neighbor’s property.
“What this issue boils down to in my mind is who owns the air space over the land,” Kerns said.